What Is a Casino?



A casino, or gambling hall, is a popular establishment offering various types of gambling-related entertainment. These establishments are commonly found in or near hotels, restaurants, retail shops, cruise ships and other tourist attractions. Casinos may also operate online.

While musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centers and elaborate themes help draw in the crowds, casinos are ultimately about games of chance. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno provide the billions of dollars in profit that casinos rake in each year. While gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, the modern casino as a place to find many ways to gamble under one roof didn’t develop until the 16th century, when a betting craze swept Europe. In Italy, wealthy nobles would hold private parties known as ridotti (which meant “private rooms” in Italian) where they could legally gamble with their own money while being shielded from the government’s persecution of regular citizens.

In the United States, legalized casino gambling began to proliferate in the late 20th century. Today, 40 states have some form of casino gambling. Many of these are primarily Las Vegas-style megacasinos, but smaller cities have smaller operations and may focus on specific games such as poker or horse racing.

Modern casinos use technology extensively, especially in areas such as security and surveillance. Casinos monitor their gaming tables with video cameras, and electronic systems can track the exact amount of money wagered minute by minute. Roulette wheels are electronically monitored regularly to discover statistical deviations that might be signs of tampering.